US Seasonal Hiring Announcements Ease to Slowest Pace Since 2013

 US companies haven’t been in a rush to lay out their seasonal hiring plans, further dimming the outlook heading into the winter holidays.

Firms have announced 573,300 seasonal positions through October, the lowest for this point in the year since 2013, according to data from the executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. Inc.Target Corp., and United Parcel Service Inc. have led the charge so far, the report showed.

By this time last year, Challenger had already tracked announcements from other companies like Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co. However, seasonal hiring — and the timing of it — varies from year to year as companies assess their business needs.

That said, the outlook for the upcoming holiday shopping season is bleak. Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc., the largest US toymakers, outlined disappointing sales forecasts in their earnings reports last week, and economists are projecting a big dropoff in consumer spending in the fourth quarter as Americans contend with lingering inflation, elevated borrowing costs, waning savings and the resumption of student-loan payments.

Challenger’s report also showed layoffs slowed further in October to the second-lowest reading this year. Technology, finance, and retail companies are still leading the way for job-cut announcements.

“Job cut plans have slowed significantly since the first half of the year, and consumers have continued to spend, even in the face of high inflation,” said Andy Challenger, senior vice president at the firm. “That said, hiring has also slowed, workers are less likely to quit their jobs, and many companies are beginning to recognize the potential for artificial intelligence in their workforces.”

Charles Schwab (SCHW.N) has laid off 5% to 6% of its total headcount in a bid to cut rising costs, a company spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The reduction amounts to between 1,795 and 2,154 people out of its 35,900-strong workforce.

"These were hard but necessary steps to ensure Schwab remains highly competitive," the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Banking heavyweights including Goldman Sachs (GS.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N) have joined the rest of Corporate America in cutting jobs and costs to better position themselves for a murky economic climate.

In August, Charles Schwab disclosed plans to save $500 million by cost-saving measures and said at the time it would cut jobs, without disclosing the number of employees it was going to lay off.

Beyond Meat is cutting 19% of its non-production workforce after a weaker-than-expected third quarter.

The plant-based meat company said Thursday that the reduction of approximately 65 employees is part of a broader corporate review. The company is also considering exiting some product lines, changing pricing, shifting its manufacturing, and restructuring its Chinese operations.

Beyond Meat's shares rose 9% in morning trading Thursday.

“We anticipated a modest return to growth in the third quarter of 2023 that did not occur,” Beyond Meat President and CEO Ethan Brown said in a statement.

The company plans to release its third-quarter earnings on Nov. 8. In the meantime, it said it expects revenue of $75 million for the July-September period. That would be 8.5% lower than the same period a year ago.

Beyond Meat also said it now expects full-year net revenue in the range of $330 million to $340 million, which would be 19% to 21% lower than the previous year. Wall Street had expected full-year sales of $365 million, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

The layoffs aren't the first for Beyond Meat. Last year, the company laid off around 240 people in multiple rounds of cuts, citing pressure from inflation and intensifying competition.

The El Segundo, California, company said it saw weaker sales in U.S. retail and food service and lower-than-expected return on promotional programs. The company recently launched U.S. ads that try to counter perceptions that its products are overly processed and unhealthy.

Beyond Meat has seen a better reception for its products in Europe, where its burgers and chicken nuggets are featured on McDonald's menus. McDonald's has tested Beyond Meat's products in the U.S. but hasn't added them to its permanent menu.

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